This article was originally printed in Pregnancy Help News on Jan 24, 2023, and is reprinted here with permission.
Last week, I had the immense pleasure of taking part in Babies Go to Congress for the first time.
This annual event is an opportunity for mothers and their children to talk to Representatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress about the support and services they received at a pregnancy help center. These legislators get to hear first-hand the great work pregnancy help organizations are doing in their constituent communities. Traveling from their home state to share their story directly, these women and mothers can leave a powerful and lasting impact on a legislator and their aides.
I was with a team representing the state of Texas.
*Kylie and her 18-month-old daughter *Zoe were the center of attention. Kylie’s story has elements that many women may empathize with or relate to.
She has endured abortion (which resulted in sepsis and blood transfusions for her), miscarriages, fertility issues, fierce pressure from family and friends on both sides of the family to get an abortion, and a complete lack of emotional support, family support, and material support for a child.
She has also been able to celebrate rainbow babies, marriage, and a new job.
Kylie is the epitome of a strong woman and mother. She has four living children now and is still in touch with the staff at Real Options in Allen, Texas, where she received support for her pregnancy with Zoe.
Listening to Kylie’s story and listening to Jennifer, executive director at Real Options, talk about how the center supports women in a holistic manner, I was moved to tears.
As a member of the Option Line team, I often do not get to see the other side of the story. I connect women to life-affirming pregnancy help organizations in their area, I answer questions, I offer a listening ear and peer counseling — but I don’t get to see the outcome. I have to place each call, text, chat, or email into God’s hands once that interaction passes through mine. I have to trust that His will is being done in the lives of the men, women, and adolescents who reach out to us.
But Babies Go to Congress was a glimpse for me into the other side of that phone call. What happens after I set up an appointment for a woman at a pregnancy center? What happens after I transfer her call to a center that is open, or give her the information for a center that will be open the next morning?
I know the pregnancy help organizations we connect women with strive to serve every client to the best of their abilities. There is no doubt in my mind that the center staff and volunteers are going to love and care about that woman who called me just as much as I care about her. I rely on the physical locations offering tangible services and support to be able to offer hope and help to each person I interact with.
Listening to Kylie’s story and the stories of Evalynn and Danielle, I was blessed and encouraged to hear of the ways the pregnancy help movement is stepping into the gaps in our society and supporting women who have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to.
The day of our meetings on Capitol Hill was a whirlwind of walking, metal detectors, hallways, walking, getting lost, asking for directions, laughter, and — did I mention? — walking.
We were blessed to receive a warm reception from the legislative aides in each office. They were attentive and compassionate.
Kylie was initially very nervous to be sharing her story publicly, but on the day of the meetings, she did not show any nervousness or anxiety. Her story flowed smoothly and clearly; seeing her overcome that fear and step into a scary situation with poise and grace really just showcased to me her strength and depth of character. It was amazing to watch.
At one point, we stopped to ask directions from a young woman, obviously a legislative aide, who nervously replied that it was her first week on the job and she was still learning her way around.
However, she was able to figure out the directions and get us to the floor we needed to be on!
Little moments like that throughout the day helped drive home the point that these people, working in beautiful, historic, huge buildings, wearing business suits and outfits — they’re all just that, people. There is no “us” and “them” because we’re all sharing in the common human experience.
Being able to recognize and internalize that truth helped Kylie feel less nervous and more confident and helped me remember that the pro-life movement and pregnancy help movement is not just a political debate, though it’s often framed as such.
The work and mission of our movements are very human responses to very human problems. The situations and pressures that lead women to get abortions are not ever going to be completely eradicated, but that doesn’t mean we stop our progress toward that goal.
My Babies Go to Congress experience has helped me realize more than ever the important work the pregnancy help movement does, and I intend to keep working toward our goal of making abortion unwanted for today and unthinkable for future generations.
Editor’s note: *Names have been changed to preserve privacy. For more information on what Babies Go to Congress is, read this primer on Heartbeat International’s website.
Cover photo: courtesy of Lisa Bourn. Kylie shares her story of pregnancy help in Texas Rep. Keith Self’s office.